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CONGRESS

W. A. AND H. JACOBS.

FEBRUARY 23, 1855.–Laid upon the table, and ordered to be printed.

Mr. NICHOLS, from the Committee on Private Land Claims, made the

following

REPORT.

The Committee on Private Land Claims, to whom was referred the

petition of William A. Jacobs and H. Jacobs, alleged assignees of Albert V. Barnes, to whom military warrant No. 60654, for one hundred and sixty acres, was issued, under act of 11th February, 1847, having had the same under consideration, submit the following report:

Whereas it appears, from a letter from the Commissioner of the General Land Office, bearing date January 23d, 1855, that the Pension Office, together with the courts of justice, are competent to extend adequate relief in all cases similar to those presented by the petitioners, and that the aid of the legislative department of the government cannot be properly invoked, with a view of giving the Executive power over a subject matter in which all the appropriate functions of both, or either, have been already performed, in this case a warrant issued to the soldier, and is now outstanding. Tbe law declares “null and void, to all intents and purposes, all sales, mortgages, powers, or instruments of writing, going to affect the title or claim to such bounty land, made or executed prior to the issue of the warrant;' '' and it is by virtue of just such a void power that the present claim arises, executed nearly two years after the date of the law, and therefore with full notice. It is not seen how any surrender by the survivor of two alleged assignees (or even by both, were it practicable) could affect the title to the existing warrant, their claims being based, not on a voidable, but an absolutely void, instrument; and if Congress should grant to such survivor, it could not be upon the ground of the government having received from him an equivalent, in this extinguishment of the claim of the original warrantee, by the surrender of the warrant, the title to which yet remains in such soldier if living, or in his heirs if dead; and if any claim could have passed to the Messrs. Jacobs, it was not a title by joint tenantry, which would inure to the survivor.

The precedent of such special legislation as is asked in this case would, in the judgment of your committee, be a dangerous one, and the evil would be great, because it would involve Congress in endless special legislation to cure defects or illegalities in the assignment of

these warrants, instead of leaving the parties to assert and maintain their rights, if they have any, in the local courts, like a claim to any other species of property. Your committee, therefore, ask to be discharged from the further consideration of the subject above referred to, and ask that this report may be printed.

2d Session.

No. 130.

CATHARINE STRUBING.

FEBRUARY 23, 1855.-Laid upon the table, and ordered to be printed.

Mr. Nichols, from the Committee on Private Land Claims, made the

following

REPORT. The Committee on Private Land Claims, to whom was referred the peti

tion of Catharine Strubing, praying for the confirmation to a certain tract of land in the State of Florida, having had the same under consideration, beg leave to report :

That the petitioner is a daughter of Doctor James Dreiner, who in the year 1775 was a surgeon in the British forces stationed in West Florida. She avers that her said father, in the year 1775 aforesaid, obtained from the British government grants for two tracts of land for 500 acres each, between the Mississippi and Perdido rivers. She further avers that these grants were upon the consideration of habitancy and cultivation on the part of the said Doctor James Dreiner ; that he never complied with the conditions of the said grant, because the revolutionary war intervened, and public duties prevented him from 80 doing. She further avers ignorance of laws passed by Congress subsequently, for adjusting land claims in Florida, and prays for confirmation of the original grants to her father, or compensation in lieu thereof.

Your committee have given to these representations all the weight to which they are entitled. The pecuniary circumstances of the petitioner have induced a disposition on the part of the committee to be liberal in the consideration of the case.

Doctor James Dreiner was, at the time of the grant, a surgeon in the British forces. He obtained his grant from the British government at the period when the Revolution had in fact commenced. This grant was located in a province which, so far as its undisturbed enjoyment was concerned, was but very little, if at all, affected by the revolutionary struggle.

This grant was made upon the express condition of habitation and cultivation, with a reversionary right to the British government upon failure of the conditions. The memorialist states that the troubles incident to the war prevented the required occupation and cultivation; but this is an unfair statement of the case, for Doctor Dreiner might, at the commencement of hostilities, have adopted the alternative of abandoning his position in the British forces, or of forfeiting his right to the lands, by a refusal or simple neglect to cultivate.

He made his choice, it appears, and went through the war, neglect

these warrants, instead of leaving the parties to assert and maintain their rights, if they have any, in the local courts, like a claim to any other species of property. Your committee, therefore, ask to be discharged from the further consideration of the subject above referred to, and ask that this report may be printed.

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